Serenity is the balance between good and bad, life and death, horrors and pleasures. Life is, as it were, defined by death. If there wasn’t death of things, then there wouldn’t be any life to celebrate. – Norman Davies Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity. […]Serenity — Steve McCurry Curated
Conversation is food for the soul. – Mexican Proverb The character of a man is known from his conversations. – Menander, 342 – 292 BCE In my opinion, the most fruitful and natural play of the mind is in conversation. I find it sweeter than any other action in life; and if I were forced to […]Conversation: Food for the Soul — Steve McCurry Curated
John Berger led us into the worlds of seeing, particularly in art. David Hockney, through his practical exploration of ways of seeing takes us into new realms and perspectives on art.
Let us start with John Berger, from his own utterances:
“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.”
“Soon after we can see, we are aware that we can also be seen. The eye of the other combines with our own eye to make it fully credible that we are part of the visible world.”
“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight. “
“The invention of the camera changed the way men saw. The visible came to mean something different to them. This was immediately reflected in painting.”
These and other quotes are from his book “Ways of seeing”.
All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this – as in other ways – they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. (John Berger)Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does.
“What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.”
and from his ground – breaking, Bafta award-winning series:
However, Hockney takes us further back, before the advent of photography, back to when artists used whatever technology was available , such as convex mirrors and prisms to get the ‘correct’ perspective on paper. Hockney’s love/hate relationship with technology, first to enhance his perspectives on seeing and then to jettison the technology so as to return to painting ensures his reverence for painting and reminding us about the limitations of such technology, particularly in photography.
He has used convex lenses, standard photography, polaroids (joiners), fax machines, iphones and ipads all to extend his own ways of seeing so as to represent these new ways in his painting.
Lets consider his polaroid ‘joiners’ :
One of Hockney’s concerns is that photography shows a moment in time whereas painting can show more than one moment in time.
He challenged his point by putting together a collage of polaroid images (in itself an instant image) and to show the passing of time (see the Bill Brandt’s different hand positions)
Noya and Bill Brandt with self-portrait, Pembroke Studios, London, 8th May 1982
As a deeply thoughtful painter, he uses photography to explore more perspectives, which seemed to culminate in his huge collage ‘ a bigger Grand Canyon ”
“A Bigger Grand Canyon” 1998 oil on 60 canvases, David Hockney
Henry Allen from the Washington Post describes the paintings:
He creates this space with hardness and softness of edge. He combs one color over another. He lightens and darkens, juxtaposing flat and glossy; using every tool in the oil-painting shop manual, it seems. It’s been a while since a famous artist painted a landscape using this much technique. Landscape painters of the 19th century used the manual, too — Thomas Moran, Frederic Church — but they used it to enlighten us with the sublimity of wild nature. Hockney provides no mist-shrouded peaks with eagles. There’s no sublimity here, unless it’s in the space between all these buttes and edges. If the sublimity is in the space itself, of course, that means it lies in the parts of the painting where there isn’t anything at all. How unsettling.
Photography can unsettle, but the beauty of the paintings and how they are put together ensures that we have to keep looking and exploring as if we were there , looking in different directions at once.
Henry Allen describes how Hockney explored through polaroid and again move to his love of painting to ‘improve’ on his earlier artistic and cognitive explorations:
In 1982, Hockney stood in front of this same view with a camera, about an hour after dawn. Over the next 30 minutes, he took 60 color photographs, moving his camera along one shot at a time, trying to match the edges of each picture by memory, six rows of photographs that each captured one-sixtieth of the view.
Over the years, he kept reassembling them in collages, until, last year for a show in Cologne, he blew them up large enough to make an 18-foot picture. It didn’t work.
“The moment I saw it, I realized you didn’t feel it across the room,” he says. Only oil color would have the impact he wanted.
He set out to paint 60 canvases that would blend the photographs together, crank up the color, and retain the collage oddity that made the picture possible: 60-point perspective, one point for each panel.
Which is to say: Instead of looking toward one vanishing point, you’re looking at 60, staring at a picture that goes off in 60 slightly different directions at once.
and finally a description on how this evolved:
Across the hall are drawings that lay out the painting in parts and whole; also, two of the photo-collages. After you see the painting, the collages have all the vibrancy of a sun-faded magazine cover. In their jagged immediacy and busyness, though, they recall the thrill of the first Hockney photo-collages you saw years ago, a thrill that was partly the hope that progress in the arts wasn’t entirely dead, that one thing could still lead to another.
Then you look back across the hall at this tour de force fireworks finale, optical illusion, catechism of 20th-century isms and 24-foot parade float commemorating the history of oil painting and and you realize that the collages did lead to something: a painting that takes us all the way back to the Big Bang beginning.
Perhaps Hockney should have the last word:
Photography can’t lead us to a new way of seeing. It may have other possibilities, but only painting can extend the way of seeing.
As seen from other posts, I have an interest in early photographic processes.
Anna Atkins was an important witness to the ‘birth’ of photography in Britain.
Anna Atkins, not only experimented with cyanotypes but produced the first book illustrated using only new processes in photography -i.e. cyanotypes.
Pages from her book Photographs of British Algae can be viewed here from the digital collection of the New York Library.
The V&A photographic department also holds copies of Anna Atkins work, such as this papaver:
As a botanist and early photographer, Anna Atkins quickly realised the benefit of using the cyanotype process to record specimens of plant life, such as this poppy. Cyanotype was invented by the astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842. The following year, Atkins became the first person to print and publish a photographically illustrated book, British Algae, Cyanotype Impressions, part 1. To make a ‘photogram’ with the cyanotype process, the photographer laid an object on paper impregnated with iron salts, then exposed the paper to sunlight for a few minutes. When washed in water, the area where the plant had blocked the light remained white, but the area that was exposed came out a rich blue.
and one of my own cyanotypes nearly 180 years later:
A couple of events for those photofiles in Paris, first at HCB and the other -Paris Photo 2012
|CONVERSATIONS AT FONDATION HCB
A cycle of bimonthly Conversations, conferences on photography, is organized by Natacha Wolinski, art critic.Upcoming Conversation:
Wednesday 24th October, from 6.30pm to 6pm
With Sandra Alvarez de Toledo, director, éditions L’Arachnéen and Philippe-Alain Michaud, curator of the film department at Centre Pompidou.
Imperative reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson – 2 impasse Lebouis 75014 PARIS +33 1 56 80 27 00
15-18 November 2012
Beneath the clear light of the Grand Palais, the specificity of photography, its
place in the history of Art, and its contemporary dynamics were shared, in 2011,
with more than 50,000 visitors. Artists, gallery owners, collectors, institutions,
professionals, the curious and the passionate enjoyed the renewed vitality of that
impossible to avoid international rendezvous.
Strengthened by such success, Paris Photo 2012 continues to forge ahead by this
year welcoming to the Grand Palais 128 galleries and 23 specialists in Photography
Books, that is, 22 countries represented, 68% international galleries and 36 new
galleries selected. A selection that has become of increasingly high standard,
focussing on the diversity and quality of the artists and the works presented by
the gallery owners.
This unique panorama is once again accompanied by an ambitious programme that
allows the whole public to appreciate better what is at stake in photographic
The “Recent Acquisitions” exhibition presents the new photography collections of
the LACMA (Los Angeles), the Fotomuseum of Winterthur (Switzerland) and the Huis
The exhibition « Private Collection » makes us discover the « Archive of Modern
Conflict », an extraordinary group of photographies, often anonymous, from all eras
The “Open Book” exhibition honours the publications (books and ephemerae) of Bernd
& Hilla Becher, bearing witness to the importance of the printed support in the
formalisation of their “typologies”.
But Paris Photo is also a moment of conviviality propitious to reflection and
exchange. Thus the guests of the Platform gather around interviews, round tables
and performances. It is within that framework that Hilla Becher, Rem Koolhaas and
David Lynch will speak. In addition, the latter has also selected from among the
works presented by gallery owners those which feed most his mental universe. His
choice will take the form of a journey within the Fair and a book: “Paris Photo
by David Lynch”.
Finally, another specificity of the Fair, the book of photography will again
be celebrated with the presentation of the Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation
Photobook Awards 2012 that will reward 2 books produced in the year from among
the 30 pre-selected.
Julien Frydman, director of Paris Photo
Avenue Winston-Churchill, 75008 Paris
Metro : lines 1, 9, 13 / Stations : Franklin-D.-Roosevelt, Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau
RER : lines C / Stations : Invalides
Bus : lines 28, 42, 52, 72, 73, 80, 83, 93
• OPENING HOURS
Thurs. 15 nov from 12.00 till 8.00 pm
Friday 16 nov from 12.00 to 9.30 pm
Sat. 17 novembre from 12.00 to 8.00 pm
Sun. 18 nov from 12.00 to 7.00 pm
Entrance fees : 28 € / 14 € for students
Catalog : 25 €
Entrance + catalog package : 45 €
And just for fun….
Would a camera have recorded this scene differently? If so, what is the difference?
David Hockney has been exploring the relationship between painting and photography…
I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with photography. It’s a one-eyed man looking through a little ‘ole. Now, how much reality can there be in that? – David Hockney
There is nothing wrong with photography, if you don’t mind the perspective of a paralysed Cyclops. – David Hockney
One of the things I’m doing in Yorkshire is finding out how difficult it is to learn not to see like cameras, which has had such an effect on us. The camera sees everything at once. We don’t. There’s a hierarchy. Why do I pick out that thing as opposed to that thing or that thing? – David Hockney
Without images how would I know what you see? I don’t know what you see. I’ll never know, but these flat images are the only things that connect up between us. – David Hockney
I made a photograph of a garden in Kyoto, the Zen garden, which is a rectangle. But a photograph taken from any one point will not show, well it shows a rectangle, but not with ninety degree angles.
But slowly I began to use cameras and then think about what it was that was going on. It took me a long time, I mean I actually played with cameras and photography for about 20 years.
But the moment you use an ordinary camera, you are not seeing the picture, remember, meaning, you had to remember what you’ve taken. Now you could see it of course, with a digital thing, but remember in 1982 you couldn’t.
Perhaps ‘seeing’ is important for all artists whether using painting or photography as a medium of recording and expressing…
When is the present? When did the past end and the present occur, and when does the future start? Ordinary photography has one way of seeing only, which is fixed, as if there is kind of an objective reality, which simply cannot be. Picasso…knew that every time you look there’s something different. There is so much there but we´re not seeing it, that’s the problem. – David Hockney
Television is becoming a collage – there are so many channels that you move through them making a collage yourself. In that sense, everyone sees something a bit different.
Now that is something worth thinking about – everyone sees something different….
You had to be aware that I saw that photography was a mere episode in the history of the optical projection and when the chemicals ended, meaning the picture was fixed by chemicals, we were in a new era.
It adds fuel to his belief that painting can do things photography can’t, even when it comes to telling the truth about war. Everyone used to assume photographs of war were “true” in a way photography can’t be. But Hockney argues that the digital age has made such a conception of photography obsolete. You can change any image now in any way you want. He once saw what a famous LA photographer’s portrait of Elton John looked like before it was retouched. The difference, he says, was “hilarious”. And now everyone can do this.
“My sister, who is just a bit older than me, she’s a retired district nurse, she’s just gone mad with the digital camera and computer – move anything about; she doesn’t worry about whether it’s authentic or stuff like that – she’s just making pictures.”
Although Hockney may disparage the simplicity of taking photos he should admit that since Niepce in early 182o’s brought photography into reality that photography has influenced painting and equally painting influenced the range of possibilities within photographic art.
jfkturner in his blog ‘The Delights of Seeing‘ (Photorealism and the Relationship Between Photography and Painting) explores the close but turbulent rapport between photography and painting.
The invention of a device that could allow anybody to record the world in perfect detail would revolutionize how we see ourselves, how we communicate and how we make art. Without Photography Modern art, film and the Internet would not exist – or at least not as we know them.
In my opinion the announcement of a device that could capture the world in perfect detail forced painters to question the nature of painting, ask what an image was and what the nature of art is. As a result paintings changed – creating images that could not be created by a camera. Eventually artists questioned the act of painting and many moved towards other ways of working – for example performance and conceptual art.
and then a last quote from Hockney himself:
He argued that for the past 500 years, artists in the West have used optics and lenses in their work, thereby presenting the world in photographic terms. The invention of photography as we know it, says Hockney, was only the invention of chemicals; the optical lens has been around for hundreds of years. The “invention of photography,” he tells me, “was the invention of the fixative to fix an image.”
Hockney seems to have an antipathy to this “chemical” photography, which he claims has assumed visual control, which equals power. “If you think of it, until the 19th century, one of the main purveyors of images was the church,” he says. “They decided that Christianity needed images, so they provided images, and in doing so the church had social control for a long time. But in the 19th century, they began to lose that control.”
“With the invention of photography, the power for social control simply moved with the image makers to what we call the media. Social control in the 20th century came through the media. That’s now disintegrating, and in a way the power of the media is therefore being diminished, and it’s spreading to anyone who wants it.”
“We’ve gotten to the point where we think the camera can capture anything at all,” “Well, it can’t really. The camera can’t compete with painting at all. The paintings are much more vivid about the place than photographs are.”
What do you think? Has photography influenced painting?
David Hockney is a great painter,but he has also known fame through photography, although he does not mince his words when he says ‘Photography will never equal painting!’
Perhaps this is the wrong argument as they are different media and needn’t be compared.
However he does make judgemental comments about photography such as ‘Photography is only good for mechanical reproduction’. ‘Photography can’t show time’ and more… I’ve seen professional photographers shoot hundreds of pictures but they are all basically the same. They are hoping that in one fraction of a second something will make that face look as if there were a longer moment…If you take a hundred, surely one will be good. It could be anybody doing it… There are few good photographs, and those good ones that do exist are almost accidental. Photography has failed…How many truly memorable pictures are there? Considering the milllions of photographs taken, there are few memorable images in this medium, which should tell us something. Photography can’t lead us to a new way of seeing. It may have other possibilities but only painting can extend the way of seeing.
Perhaps Hockney has not succeeded with one image but his photo collages and photo montages – ‘Joiners’ = certainly caught the eye of the public in the 1980’s.
Hockney’s creation of the “joiners” occurred accidentally. He noticed in the late sixties that photographers were using cameras with wide-angle lenses to take pictures. He did not like such photographs because they always came out somewhat distorted. He was working on a painting of a living room and terrace in Los Angeles. He took Polaroid shots of the living room and glued them together, not intending for them to be a composition on their own. Upon looking at the final composition, he realized it created a narrative, as if the viewer was moving through the room. He began to work more and more with photography after this discovery and even stopped painting for a period of time to exclusively pursue this new style of photography. (ref Guardian) From 1982 Hockney explored the use of the camera, making composite images of Polaroid photographs arranged in a rectangular grid. Later he used regular 35-millimetre prints to create photo collages, compiling a ‘complete’ picture from a series of individually photographed details.
The main obstacle Hockney thinks he has overcome is the limited perspective of a stationary camera. A single photograph can only show one point of view, usually for a small period of time. “All photographs share the same flaw,” he says. “Lack of time.” He then goes on to trace photography’s misguided view back hundreds of years to the Renaissance and invention of the Camera Obscura.
Cubism helped to topple the single perspective in the hand-arts, but with photography it still exists. The idea behind Hockney’s grids was to inject multiple reference points into photography, in short to make it cubist.
With a new exhibition of Hockney’s work in the Royal Academy -A Bigger Picture which focuses more on his painting, for obvious reasons it is worth looking at his ‘inferior’ artwork of photography:
And the very well known ‘Pearl Bllossom Highway”
and for more on this one..
A portrait of Hockney’s early art dealer friends John Kasmin..
and for a change, one in black and white…
More exploration of composition..
and a portrait of friend, artist and art dealer Nick Wilder
A portrait of artist Patrick Procter
and what is not photographable
I have always been interested in how photography can change awareness and attitudes or at least encourage viewers to look at the world in different ways.
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Following last week’s programmes on Stargazing, many more people are becoming interested in the incredible images coming back from telescopes,space craft and satellites.
It’s a project that’s more than a decade in the making. The world’s largest digital camera – a 138-megapixel imaging detector attached to a 2.5 meter telescope in New Mexico – began capturing photos in 1998. What’s surprising is that scientists have been using virtually the same map of the sky since the 1950s, when the First Palomar Sky Survey was conducted using a 48-inch telescope located in southern California.
The pixels in the new image are so advanced that it contains five different colors of light: “green, yellow, red, redder than red and bluer than blue.” (Um, we didn’t know those last two existed.)
To see an animation of just how miniscule we all are and how petty all of our problems seem in the shadow of our vast universe, check out this animation!
As France was one of the birth places of photography (The first permanent photograph (later accidentally destroyed) was an image produced in 1826 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, who also teamed up with Louis Daguerre), I like reporting on photographic events in Paris.
(sorry about the google translation -original on the site quoted above)
Le Petit Palais, which has opened to the world of photography and contemporary images since 1998, says Reporters Without Borders, on the occasion of its 25 years, giving its anniversary album dedicated to Peter and Alexandra Boulat.
Paying tribute to two great names of French photojournalism, the album “100 pictures of Peter & Alexandra Boulat for Freedom of the Press”, published by Reporters Without Borders, and the exhibition at the Petit Palais show two viewpoints on the world – passionate glances while being confusing and deeply humanistic. The stories of Peter, on the slums of Nanterre in the ’50s or the daily lives of American women, create the same intensity as those of his daughter in Gaza or the suffering of Afghan mothers, four decades later.
Le Petit Palais, involved with the City of Paris in the fight for freedom of expression and protection of journalists, is the ideal place to host this exhibition celebrating photography commenced.
While more than one third of the world population live in countries where there is no press freedom, Reporters Without Borders works constantly to restore their right to information. Believes imprisoning or killing a journalist removes a vital witness and threatens everyone’s right to information, Reporters Without Borders carries on the fight for freedom of the press relentlessly for 25 years.
A quarter of a century that saw the world change: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the democratization of much of Africa, allowed the freedom of the press to gain ground. However, it remains seriously threatened and the battle Reporters Without Borders is still current.
To finance its activities, Reporters Without Borders publishes, since 1992, a collection of photo albums. “100 photos of Peter & Alexandra Boulat for Freedom of the Press” will be released September 9, 2010, and will be sold for the benefit of the association.
Musée des Beaux–‐Arts de la Ville de Paris
Avenue Winston Churchill